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Clayfield renovation sparks children's curiosity

Goodstart centres

When Goodstart Clayfield’s new centre director Emma Bowles started her job, she was faced with transforming a small, not-for-purpose built centre that needed a renovation.

Rather than just accepting it for what it was, Ms Bowles began a process of rejuvenation with the aim of maximising the potential of the unique centre and making it a distinct point of difference in the community.

Her work, and that of her team, has resulted in a 2018 National Goodie award for Centre Presentation.

The Goodies recognise excellence in Goodstart centres and showcase the best practice and commitment to delivering high quality education for all of Australia’s children. There were 19 national winners this year, and more than 700 nominations submitted.

“Our shared vision at the centre was to create something that sparked the children’s curiosity and enriches their explorations and interactions,” Ms Bowles said.

The first step was to declutter the building, resulting in three full skip bins worth of rubbish being taken away.

“We then began buying the resources we needed to ensure the centre’s ongoing success. Budget constraints were overcome by planning exactly were resource money would be spent and prioritising the items needing to be purchased,” Ms Bowles said.

“A good starting point is to edit old furniture or mismatched resources, anything that is broken or not working so you can step back and focus on each space with fresh eyes. We engaged the centre families with a working bee which assisted us immensely and will now be something.”

Since the renovation, the centre has seen an increase in occupancy (92 per cent versus 77 per cent the year before) and the tour to booking conversion rate.

“The centre environments are not only refreshed but are now spaces that look very different to our competitors in the local area. Existing families and touring families have commented that whilst the centre is not brand new, it feels welcoming and engaging for children.”

“The team now has pride in their environment which is evident in the way they present their spaces and respect the resources.

“The children are now more curious in their explorations of their environment and there is a higher level of engagement in their environment,” she said.

Award judge Warren Bight said the centre leveraged a team effort and strong vision

 “The impact of their efforts can be measured by the overwhelming feedback from families, increased engagement of children and educators alike along with a healthy uplift in attendance.”
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